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ACS Nano. 2013 Jun 25;7(6):4700-7. doi: 10.1021/nn4023558. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Chemical mapping and quantification at the atomic scale by scanning transmission electron microscopy.

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Center for Condensed Matter Sciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei 106, Taiwan.


With innovative modern material-growth methods, a broad spectrum of fascinating materials with reduced dimensions-ranging from single-atom catalysts, nanoplasmonic and nanophotonic materials to two-dimensional heterostructural interfaces-is continually emerging and extending the new frontiers of materials research. A persistent central challenge in this grand scientific context has been the detailed characterization of the individual objects in these materials with the highest spatial resolution, a problem prompting the need for experimental techniques that integrate both microscopic and spectroscopic capabilities. To date, several representative microscopy-spectroscopy combinations have become available, such as scanning tunneling microscopy, tip-enhanced scanning optical microscopy, atom probe tomography, scanning transmission X-ray microscopy, and scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). Among these tools, STEM boasts unique chemical and electronic sensitivity at unparalleled resolution. In this Perspective, we elucidate the advances in STEM and chemical mapping applications at the atomic scale by energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy with a focus on the ultimate challenge of chemical quantification with atomic accuracy.


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